First-round appearance not necessarily a bad thing for UMaine women

The University of Maine women’s basketball team went into Wednesday night’s game at New Hampshire clinging to an outside chance it might slip into the No. 7 spot in the America East standings.
More than likely, the Black Bears will wind up eighth.
This time, playing in the first-round game between the league’s Nos. 8 and 9 seeds may not be such a bad thing.
Even though it would mark the fifth consecutive season the Black Bears finish among the bottom two teams heading into the tournament, the matchup against Stony Brook would bring with it a potential positive dynamic.
Coach Richard Barron’s team is in no position to make a serious challenge for the America East title this season, but playing Stony Brook in the opening game of the tournament could serve as a springboard.
If UMaine can end its string of one-and-done appearances in West Hartford, it will gain some valuable postseason experience for its returning players.
Even though a victory would pit the Bears against either Boston University or Albany in the quarterfinals, that would mean two postseason games on which to build for 2012-13, when UMaine expects an influx of new talent.
It is difficult to replicate the pressure of tournament play, so the Bears can try to drink it all in — as long as it lasts.
The America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship begins March 1 with first-round games at the University of Hartford’s Chase Family Arena. The women’s quarterfinals are Friday, followed by the men’s quarterfinals Saturday.
Winners advance to Sunday’s semifinals.
Also, though Ted Woodward’s UMaine men’s team has struggled of late, the Bears have the potential to make some noise in the tournament.
The Bears are likely to be seeded seventh and face No. 2 Vermont in the quarterfinals. UMaine would be challenged, but at least will avoid facing host Hartford, as was the case a year ago.

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About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 35 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.